Theatre in the Backyard 2021
Goethe-Institut Project Space (GPS)
The creative strategy of Theatre in the Backyard director Mhlanguli George is to situate works in private and personal spaces within the communities where the works are made. For the Goethe-Institut Project Space-supported collaboration with Emalahleni-based Nyathela Works, George collaborated with musicians and performers from Emalahleni and Secunda in Mpumalanga to create four performances that were presented in yards in Lynnville, Ezinambeni Phase 4 (in Emalahleni, a.k.a. Witbank) and Embalenhle (in Secunda).
In order to create the works, George spent one month in Mpumalanga, developing new works and crafting existing performances, as well as locating and securing the spaces where these works would be presented, and producing and marketing the programme of performances in collaboration with Nyathela Works. The four productions that were presented over the three days from the 26 to 28 February were “Azania was my woman”, “Woman & the Shadow” , “Ilijwa” (The curse) and “Iphepha”(The Articles) .
In “Azania was my woman”, an ex-soldier struggles to come to terms with the loss of his beloved. His distress pushes him into a space between sanity and insanity. His aggravation stems from being forced to move from his own land, and his disappointment and rage about current state of things in his society. He feels robbed and unappreciated after what he had done in service of his country.
In “ilijwa” (The Curse), a family attempts to perform a ritual to free themselves from the effects of dehumanization, loss, indebtedness, hatred and malaise resulting from their circumstances and history.
In “Woman & the shadow”, a woman deals with the trauma of sexual violence through a passionate dialogue with her shadow.
In “Iphepha” (The Articles), two young men reflect on, and riff off stories they glean from newspapers. Employing flashbacks, word games, dance, songs and exuberant physical play, they weave together a dynamic combination of satire and physical theatre, exposing and portraying current stories from the time of the Covid-19 lockdown of 2020.